“Nothing,” her father said. “I haven’t heard from you in a while and wanted to see howyou were, you know, make sure you’re happy and healthy and what not. Didn’t mean to catchyou at a bad time. Are you in a rush?”Marie looked at the clock.“Well actually, Dad, I’m heading to Central Park for a quick jog before it gets too late.”Marie’s father clucked his tongue on the other end of the line.“Marie, are you
?” he scolded. “All kinds of crazies are out and about this late atnight. You can get mugged, or worse, raped.”Marie rolled her eyes. Since her mother died of a heart attack two years earlier, her father treated her like glass.“Dad, I’ll be fine. It’s just for half an hour. I’ll run the trail across from Arthur RossPinetum, right next to the police precinct, so don’t worry.”Her father sighed. “I still don’t think it’s safe. If you insist, at least let me callCongressman Allen. He’s in New York for a congressional meeting and I can arrange for oneof his bodyguards to escort you. I don’t want you out there alone.”Marie gripped the phone tight and clenched her jaw. “No, Dad. I don’t want to hangaround here and wait for a bodyguard. I’ll catch a cab, take a run and go home. I promise I’llcall you the minute I get there, okay?”“All right, Marie,” he relented. “I still don’t like it, but I guess I can’t talk you out of it.You be careful and call me the second you get home, understand?”Marie laughed. “I promise, worry wart. Now let me go so I can get the hell out of here.”“Okay, I love you sweetheart.”Marie smiled. “I love you, too, Dad. Bye,” she said, and hung up.* * *Marie puffed hard and sprinted across Rumsey Playfield, taking a short cut by TheSheep Meadow Café. She'd planned to run by the police precinct, originally, but decided to jog the circle around Central Park South, cutting her time in half by not having to stop at theend of the street, turn and then go the opposite way every time.Rounding the corner by Strawberry Fields, she locked her eyes on Tavern on the Greencoming up ahead, then noticed something stir in the bushes along the edge of the trail.Squinting into the darkness, she slowed down to a trot. The hedge line directly beside her moved and a dark form walked through to the other side. Quickly, she took off running again,and cut over to the road beside Sheep Meadow to the Dairy Visitor Center a few meters away.